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The Silent March of Progress

While reading “China’s plan to run the World ” I started thinking about electrical outlets. Specifically the difference in electrical plugs around the world. In the 1900’s when these technologies were being created, it seemed that each country had its own ideas about power and what would be standard. It seems that there are 12 different types of electrical plugs in use in the world today. In India, they use the plug that the British used when India was a colonial power. The Brits updated their plug in 1946 but it wasn’t adopted by India when they gained their independence in 1947. In this way, the number of “standard” plugs grew to what is now 12. It seems as China expands its influence, building it brings its idea of technology and progress to the world- it sets themselves as the standard of what is progress, what is good and worthwhile and what is not.
Some years ago I heard an interview with a man who walked the equator. When asked what was the most influential thing he saw in his travels, he recounted how in the smallest, most technologically challenged area, there was a generator, a VCR and a television and each night, people would sit around the television and watch whatever movie they had access to. The idea that what they were watching was some sort of standard idea, of what everyone should have, was the most powerful and influential thing he had see in his journey.
Technology not only brings change, it brings ideas and in this new global village, nothing moves faster. What will we do when everyone wants what we have or when everyone else wants something else?

China, technology,

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The Marriage of the Dull Science and Senseless Beauty

In my wild years it seemed like a good idea to study Economics. Needless to say this passion passed to less lucrative field, thought the ramifications of economic thought still crosses my mind. This happened recently when thinking of social media and the wealth of data that floods our consciousness every moment. It seems that these two ideas, social media and economic theory,  are coming out of opposite corners in regard to our ideas of value and worth. Our economy teaches us to value things that are scarce- scarcity equals value but the idea of social media is completely opposite, excess is valued, how much quality content can you post. While these Janus faced concepts seem define our world and our relationship to it, it seems that we never stop to think about the ramifications of these ideas. People are confounded by the reality of social media, that the more quality content the better- where is the scarcity, where is the value? How is it that the scarcity we have valued has now, through the new social media, become of the least value. A Facebook page with little or no content wild fade into obscurity while one with a solid supply of quality posts will find an audience. Like content, we have so many people in the world we seem to take them as an exhaustible, expendable  resource. When Chairman Mao was faced with the possibility of an atomic bomb being dropped on China he reportedly responded saying ” China has many people. They cannot be bombed out of existence. …….. The death of ten or twenty million people is nothing to be afraid of.” The most precious thing we have, our time on this earth we seem not to appreciate until we find ourselves confronted with the end of it.

We can only hope that in this time of readjusting ideas of worth and value we may take the lead from this new computer paradigm, that there is value in number and discover the value of the many and concern ourselves only with the scarcity of gratitude in our bounty.

Giovanni_Battista_Tiepolo

The Marriage of the Dull Science and Senseless Beauty

 

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